Lewis Wines: A Couple of Buddies Crafting Delicious Terroir-Driven Wines in the Texas Hill Country

By Published On: January 24, 2023

Friendship is a powerful bond that can lead to great things, this is certainly true for the story of Lewis Wines. Founded in 2010 by two college buddies, Doug Lewis and Duncan McNabb, after they both gained experience working at a winery in Texas. The brand was born out of a shared passion for wine and a desire to work for themselves in agriculture.  

Credit: Lewis Wines

In 2012, the duo decided to start their own vineyard, the 5 Lions Vineyard, which is located in Johnson City, Texas and covers 6.8 acres. The vineyard was set up using the VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioning) method, with slightly denser plantings than other vineyards in the area.  The VSP method allows for precise management of the canopy and crop load, which is important in the Texas Hill Country with such extreme temperatures and rainfall variations.

Lewis Wines is located in the Pedernales River Basin, where the vineyard is planted in shallow residual clay soils over limestone on northeast facing hillsides at an elevation of 1500-1600 feet.  The climate is continental, with hot summers, cold winters, and an average of 32 inches of rain per year.  However, rainfall can vary significantly from year to year, with some years as little as 4-7 inches and others receiving up to 50 inches. The vineyard is located in one of the warmest areas in the Texas Hill Country, with bud break occurring in the Spring and harvest taking place from the end of July through early September. 

Doug and Duncan have a close working relationship, working together as a team on everything from grape growing to winemaking.  While Duncan spends most of his time in the winery, Doug divides his time between the vineyard, winery, selling wine and the office.  As they are both involved in all aspects of the business, things run relatively smoothly. 

At Lewis Wines, they prioritize capturing the vintage, variety, and terroir in their wines.  They use winemaking techniques and styles that highlight these qualities, rather than overshadowing them with cooperage or other techniques. Freshness is a key focus for the brand, both in picking decisions and extraction in the cellar.

Credit: Lewis Wines

“We’re trying to develop our wines from what works here viticulturally, as opposed to making the viticulture work to make a wine we had a preconceived idea about,” said Doug. “We want to make wines that are reflective of our unique location and climate– that pair well with the cuisines of the region.”

Lewis Wines partners with vineyards all over the state, seeking out farmers who prioritize quality through good farming practices and soil health. They want to work with growers who are passionate about the final product and open to trying new things. For example, they have a partnership with Klein Vineyard Ranch where they are working with Tempranillo and Mourvedre grown in rocky hillside soil.  They are excited about their partnership with Bear Vineyards, where they first started working with Verdelho.

The Texas wine scene is thriving due to a strong local market and a desire for Texas products. However, there is an opportunity for growth in the areas of improving grape growing and winemaking techniques, developing a unique identity and reputation for Texas wines, and competing in the broader market.  One challenge facing the industry is the presence of out-of-state wineries opening tasting rooms in Texas without actually producing wine in the state, as well as the use of out-of-state fruit by some Texas wineries. “We need to showcase what nature can do here, and then teach people to taste and appreciate the difference,” said Doug.

The wines featured in the Wine Recommendations section were provided by the winery for the purpose of review. The selection and tasting of these wines were independently conducted. No compensation or incentives were provided from wineries or importers for inclusion in the story. As always, the top priority is to provide readers with informative unbiased reporting.

Wine Recommendations

2019 Grenache Mourvedre- a delightful blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvedre, hailing from the picturesque Texas Hill Country. This Rhone-style offering has a lithe body and a banquet of ripe strawberries, raspberries, and cherries. The texture is silken, with a subtle earthy undercurrent that rounds out the experience.

Credit: Lewis Wines

2012 Round Mountain Vineyard Reserve- a youthful and vibrant wine, despite its advanced vintage. A blend of Tempranillo, Tinto Cao, and Touriga Nacional, it boasts flavors of cherry, currant, and leather, with firm tannins to round out the palate. Overall, a wine that is well-structured and elegant.

2021 Chenin Blanc- distinct flavors of crisp apple, pear, with a subtle touch of peach on the finish. The mouthfeel is smooth and satisfying

About the Author: Joe Campbell

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Located out of the Sierra Foothills of California, Joe Campbell provides color commentary as well as insight within the wine industry both from the lifestyle consumer and business segments of the industry. He can be reached via email at : joe@winebulletin.net .